Northern Lites: The Dion USSSA Snowshoe Natls New Marathon Championship and Presenting Sponsor

Northern Lites Snowshoes lights the way for the first-ever United States Snowshoe Association (USSSA) Marathon Championship by securing the prestigious Presenting Sponsor role. The New Richmond, Wisconsin company, developing the sport’s featherweight brand since 1992, clenches a coveted spot on the national competitive stage with this move.

Wonderful views from Snowbasin Utah

Wonderful views from Snowbasin Utah

The USSSA Marathon Championship presented by Northern Lites Snowshoes scheduled for February 28, 2016, on famed Snowbasin Resort’s “Winter Playground” promises a test of endurance and strategy.

The Northern Lites come in two models: Elite for softer courses and Race for packed courses.

The Northern Lites come in two models: Elite for softer courses and Race for packed courses.

Does the name Geneveve Woods ring a bell? Then bring this up when you relax at the national championships. In 1940, as the new ski resort developed, the Chamber of Commerce sponsored a naming contest for the area known then as Wheeler Basin for Levi and Simon Wheeler. These two ran a sawmill in the basin. Mrs. Woods won with her submission, and because of her creativity the area officially became known what we call it today: Snowbasin.

Host of the 2002 Olympic Downhill, Combined and Super G events Ogden, Utah’s Snowbasin celebrates its Diamond Anniversary of snow excitement as racers embrace the 26.2 miles of demanding climbs and élite competition. What more could a snowshoer ask for? Snow? How about 114 inches already this season, perfect for those floating Northern Lites snowshoes.

The USSSA Half-Marathon Championship Presented by Redfeather Snowshoes races its second edition after a successful and competitive day at the Eau Claire, Wisconsin Nationals in 2015. Read Here and Here. Legendary snowshoes, Redfeathers sport a lightweight aluminum V-Tail design allowing for a quicker heel movement. Such a design along with snowshoes manufactured just for racing aided snowshoe competitions becoming fast growing events.

The Redfeather Vapor looks like its heritage: speedy

The Redfeather Vapor looks like its heritage: speedy

Both the marathon and half-marathon events come with time limits. The course for the half-marathon closes in four hours while the marathoners enjoy eight hours on the mountain. Don’t let that stop you from attempting the distance, though. All that can happen besides finishing officially means that you finish with a lower distance and unofficial time. However, the experience lasts forever; epic only begins to describe a long distance on snowshoes. You won’t win if you time out, but you will beat the billions of people who didn’t even try. In other words, you win by losing. There are worse things . . . .

Located in one of the nation’s “Hot-Beds of Snowshoeing,” Northern Lites new owners Jim and Susan York bring the passion Northern Lite racers possess for their snowshoes to a higher peak with this new sponsorship. The most prolific champion of the sport Josiah Middaugh, whose six USSSA national titles out-distance all others, races Northern Lites for over a decade. The company says, “When looking for the best snowshoe to train, race or win on, look to the best in the field and see what they wear.”

Ogden's beautiful 25th street trailhead

Ogden’s beautiful 25th street trailhead

USSSA Sports Director Mark Elmore said, “We are very pleased to forge this new partnership with Jim and Susan York as the presenting sponsor of our début snowshoe marathon national championship. Northern Lite Snowshoes has long supported our national snowshoe championship program. We’re really excited to see them back with us again this season while stepping up their support in a big way.”

The 2016 USSSA Dion Snowshoes U.S. National Championships feature three days of torrid snowshoeing. The first two days of activity finds entrants exploring the Powder Mountain Ski Resort. Registration and Powder Mountain course previews open on February 26. Then fields for national junior racers (men and women under 20-years-old), senior men and women, along with the citizen open classes, race Saturday February 27.

Unlike the famous James Dean movie “East of Eden,” Powder Mountain rises North of Eden and in Utah, not California. The Eden name came from a surveyor, Washington Jenkins. Upon realizing the area’s beauty, he felt the Biblical name Eden fit the bill. One agrees it frames the town’s charm better than the colloquial name: North Fork Town.

If James Dean had only found snowshoeing . . . .

If James Dean had only found snowshoeing . . . .

The land originally owned by Frederick James Cobabe officially converted to a ski area in 1972 after his son, Dr. Alvin Cobabe, built the land holdings to 14,000 acres. Interestingly, a friend brought up the idea of using the land as a snow resort while a group rode horses near Lightning Ridge some twenty years earlier.

Somewhat like the Eagles’ song “Desperado” Cobabe made his plans where Don Henley croons,

“Desperado, why don’t you come to your senses?

Come down from your fences, open the gate.

It may be rainin’, but there’s a rainbow above you.

You better let somebody love you . . . .”

Dr. Cobabe opened that gate, finding that rainbow above him. Now thousands upon thousands love and enjoy the Powder Mountain snow. Not surprising but true, the name Lightning Ridge came from a time where bolts of lightning struck trees there.

A history of firsts at the resort, like offering a snowkite-only pass, continues today. The 2016 national snowshoe competitions share the mountain with the USA Cycling Federation’s second annual Fat Tire Bike National Championships; what an exciting combo for emerging sports on the snow.

Plenty of loaner-snowshoes available at the 2016 Dion USSSA National Championships

Plenty of loaner-snowshoes available at the 2016 Dion USSSA National Championships

For the first time in USSSA history, no qualifying race need be completed before entering the national championships. One does, however, need a USSSA membership. Complete that formality here.

The citizen Open Events held on this same weekend–races that are not national championships–do not require the USSSA membership. Many avid snowshoers race the national championships, the open races and rise on Sunday to compete in one of the long distance races. So, there is no excuse not to enter. Just select your event(s), and go race snowshoes.

What? You have no snowshoes?

The USSSA’s got you covered. Use the prolific number and types of new loaners available at the championship headquarters. Even if you bring snowshoes, try the various manufacturer’s offerings out on the snow including Northern Lite Snowshoes, Redfeather Snowshoes, Dion Snowshoes, Crescent Moon Snowshoes and Atlas Snowshoes. Surprising how each differs from one another.

The road to Powder Mountain and Snowbasin leads to fun!

The road to Powder Mountain and Snowbasin leads to fun!

Ogden’s spirit of excitement about their area shows in the words of Sara Toliver, President and CEO of Visit Ogden“We are thrilled to be hosting the USSSA National Championships in Ogden this year. The weekend will be full of great events highlighting two of our amazing ski resorts. Snowbasin will host the introduction of the marathon in addition to the second annual half-marathon. Numerous 10 km events and the opportunity for locals to get involved in the citizen races will be happening at Powder Mountain.  These great USSSA events coupled with the USA Cycling Fat Bike National Championships and Ski Week activities make for a not-to-miss weekend in Ogden.”

Ogden's 25th Street provides this astonishing view

Ogden’s 25th Street provides this astonishing view

The 2016 USSSA Dion National Snowshoe Championships promise the biggest and most exciting ever, attracting superb snowshoe athletes from all parts of the globe to the “rugged and rustic, yet cool and urban” Ogden, Utah. With the second annual USSSA Half-Marathon Championship presented by Redfeather Snowshoes and the inaugural USSSA Marathon Championship presented by Northern Lite Snowshoes adding to the already busy snowshoe race schedule, one can take part in this fast and fast-growing sport like never before. [contact]




About the author

Phillip Gary Smith

Phillip Gary Smith, Senior Editor, published "The 300-Mile Man" about Roberto Marron's historic doubling of the Tuscobia 150 mile endurance snow run. He publishes "iHarmonizing Competition" on various forms of competition, including drag racing, his favorite motorsport. Earlier, he wrote "HARMONIZING: Keys to Living in the Song of Life" as a manual for life with chapters such as Winning by Losing, Can God Pay Your Visa Bill?, and a young classic story, The Year I Met a Christmas Angel. His book, "Ultra Superior," is the first written on the Superior Trail ultra-distance events. He mixes writing with his profession--the venture capital world--a dying art. He is a creator of CUBE Speakers, a group espousing themes in "HARMONIZING: Keys" in a unique way. Currently, he has two books in the works.
Write to him at, or find him on Twitter or Facebook @iHarmonizing.

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